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Viewtiful Joe looks unique and delivers a superior side-scrolling brawler. The blend of visuals and deft storytelling also offers a depth that becomes surprisingly endearing.
Using a clever blend of 2D and 3D visuals and a cel-shaded look, Viewtiful Joe marries old school fighting with interesting narrative design. It begins when Joe, a movie fan, finds himself thrust into the vacant role of Captain Blue - his hero. Having had his girlfriend stolen by the evil-doer in movieland he sets off to rescue her.
The plot is super simple but really well told - and proves that you don't need thrilling narrative to make a compelling experience. Viewtiful Joe is interesting, apart from the gameplay, because of its direction. The clever dialogue and humour keep the cut-scenes fresh and boss battles inventively difficult.
That's Viewtiful Joe's Achilles heel though - the difficulty. Learning all of Joe's moves and how to precisly take down enemies isn't enough. The game also requires you to use these moves in a specific way on larger foes. It requires you to put in the hours to gain experience with the fighting system before you really test yourself.
The rewards in Viewtiful Joe come from admiring the beautiful artwork and writing that accompanies it.
This left me a little ont he fence as I eagerly awaited the next cut-scene or sequence of witty dialogue. To have it locked behind such formidable opponents was certainly a two edgded sword - irritating and compelling.
In the end the combat difficulty was worth it. The sense of reward from defeating opponents and getting the narrative crumbs I was after made them taste all the sweeter.
It' not all that soulful on the surface. But a dig little deep and Viewtiful Joe delivers real highs from its beautiful artwork and writing. I know a part of my love comes from the natural enjoyment of learning a system and applying it within the boundaries of the game to its fullest extend. Shades of Demon's Souls in that regard but whereas that game has atmosphere at its heart Viewtiful Joe explodes with colour and light.
The story and the manner of its presentation made my inner comic nerd shiver with delight.
With such well realised mechanics Viewtiful Joe for the Gamecube is worth every moment of your time. I was continually amazed with the technical prowess of the game and the deep and rewarding combat mechanics that made up its DNA. The story and the manner of its presentation made my inner comic nerd shiver with delight and there's little no doubt that this game should be regarded as a classic.
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